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CCM Village on the University of Cincinnati campus. Photo by Jay Yocis.

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Michael Francis O'Toole

Title: Visiting Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology

Michael O’Toole is an ethnomusicologist specializing in the music of Turkey and its diasporas in contemporary Germany. His work addresses the politics and practices of Kurdish and Turkish music-making in Berlin, as well as the role of musicians in shaping debates about ethnicity, immigration, and religion in Germany. His most recent research focuses on the musical experiences of refugees and asylum seekers in Germany and the role of music as a form of refugee advocacy. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the International Journal of Middle East Studies, World of Music, The Routledge Companion to Local Musicking, and The SAGE Encyclopedia of Music and Culture.
Dr. O’Toole received his PhD in ethnomusicology from the University of Chicago in 2014 and held a postdoctoral fellowship in 2015-16 at the Free University Berlin. He has previously taught at DePaul University, North Park University, and the University of Chicago. In addition to his research, he performs regularly on the oud and has been a member of Middle East music ensembles in Berlin and Chicago.


  • PhD, University of Chicago.
  • BA, Columbia University.


Book Chapters

  • (2017). Local Music School Learning and Teaching. In Suzel Reily and Katherine Brucher (Eds.), The Routledge Companion to the Study of Local Musicking New York: Routledge.

Encyclopedia Articles

  • (2017). Change and Transformation. The SAGE Encyclopedia of Music and Culture

Other Publications

  • (2016). Umm Kulthum's Water Wheel. In Roundtable: Bringing Sound into Middle East Studies. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 48 (1), 120-123.
  • (Under Review). Performing Publics, Sounding Diasporas: Rehearsing 'Classical Turkish Music' in Berlin. World of Music.
  • (In Progress). The Grooves of the Baglama: Teaching and Learning the Baglama in Berlin..
  • (In Progress). Singing the Islamic Sublime: Hülya Kandemir's Popular Music of Prayer..

Presentations & Lectures

Paper Presentations

  • (11-2016). From Zeybek to Zeybreak: Reimagining Anatolian Dance in Diaspora. Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting, Boston, MA.
  • (11-2016). Western Classical Music and the Sonic Politics of Refugee Advocacy in Germany. Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting, Washington, DC.
  • (10-2016). A Mozart Opera Through the Voices of Refugees: Adapting Mozart's Zaide as a Refugee Testimony. German Studies Association Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA.
  • (12-2015). Branding Berlin as a Global City: The Anatolian Baglama and Urban Change in Berlin. Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting, Austin, TX.
  • (02-2015). Staging the Islamic Sublime: Hülya Kandemir's Popular Music of Prayer. Islam, Music, and the Sublime Workshop, University of Chicago Divinity School.